This is Part 2 of 2 of the Markan End Time Discourse page of the End Time prophecy website titled "Jesus and the End Time". This End Time or Olivet discourse shows and discusses the King James Bible passages ("texts" for short) that appear in chapter 13 of the Gospel of Mark, i.e., Mark 13:1-37. This discourse and its Matthean and Lukan counterparts, the Matthean End Time discourse (Matt. 24:1 through Matt. 25:46) and the Lukan End Time discourse (Luke 21:5-37), are singled out for special treatment for the reasons given on the Introduction page of this website. The most important of these is that these discourses include the longest and most complete descriptions of the End Times teachings of Jesus that can be found in the Gospels in which they appear. As a result, these discourses can reasonably be regarded as together comprising the single most important set of Biblical texts that a person can use to understand the Eschatology of Jesus as it is described in the King James Bible (or KJV Bible).
While the KJV Bible shows the Markan End Time discourse as a single, long sequence of verses that occupies almost all of chapter 13 of the Gospel of Mark, the writer has divided this discourse into two parts and used Mark 13:23 as the dividing line between them. One reason he has used Mark 13:23 as this dividing line is that this verse appears just before one of this discourse's main logical break points, i.e., the point at which Mark switches from describing teachings of Jesus about the End Times events that will occur before the coming of the Son of man to describing his teachings about events that will occur at or after this coming. Another reason he has used Mark 13:23 as this dividing line is that this verse lies at the point after which the Markan discourse describes End Time prophecies of Jesus which have interpretations that are the subject of controversy and, consequently, call for the inclusion of a larger than usual number of explanatory Notes. Among the most important of these is the proper interpretation or true meaning of the words 'this generation' in prophecies of Jesus that use these words, e.g. Mark 13:30, "Verily I say unto yo u, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done."
Surprisingly, the Markan End Time discourse as a whole is much shorter than the Matthean End Time discourse as a whole. In fact, Parts 1 and 2 of the Markan discourse together correspond to only Part 1 of the Matthean discourse. The main reason for this difference is that the Matthean discourse ends with a lengthy description of the teachings of Jesus about the Day of Judgment (a.k.a. the Last Judgment or End Time Judgment) while the Markan discourse does not. The writer discusses the significance of this difference in Appendices titled "Comparative Notes on the End Time Judgment" that he includes both at the end of this web page and at the end of its longer PDF counterpart. Also of interest in this connection are discussions of the meaning of everlasting punishment that appear in sets of Notes titled "Notes on Everlasting Punishment" that he includes on the Home and Table of Contents pages of this website.
P 24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, 25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. 26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. 28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: 29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. 30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. 31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. P 32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
• V. 24-32 above generally correspond to Matt. 24:29-36 and Luke 21:25-37 of the Matthean and Lukan discourses.
• The teaching of Jesus about the darkening of the sun and moon in v. 24 is repeated, almost word for word, in v. 29 of Matt. 24:29-36. This darkening seems to refer to that mentioned in v. 10 of Is. 13:6-15, v. 7 of Ezek. 32:3-10, v. 10 of Joel 2:1-11 and v. 15 of Joel 3:9-21. The corresponding teaching in the Lukan discourse, v. 25 of Luke 21:25-37, is worded more broadly and states, "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars;". As a result, the Lukan version of this teaching may refer not only to the last-cited texts, but also to v. 23 of Is. 24:17-23, v. 30-31 of Joel 2:28-32, v. 9 of Amos 8:7-10 and v. 6 of Zech. 14:1-11.
• Surprisingly, unlike the most nearly similar Matthean and Lukan texts, Matt 24:29-36 and Luke 21:25-37, v. 24-32 do not describe Jesus using the word "sign" (Matt. 24:30) or "signs" (Luke 21:25) as such to answer the question about a sign that disciples ask him in the first parts of all three End Time discourses, i.e., in Matt. 24:3, Mark 13:4 and Luke 21:7.
• V. 25 is the first verse of the Markan discourse in which Jesus uses the word "heaven". This word may have any of the meanings it has when it is used in longer phrases like the God of heaven, the host of heaven, the heaven of heavens and the kingdom of heaven, and apparent contractions thereof like heaven, the heaven and the heavens. In the accompanying Auxiliary Sense file titled "Senses of the Word Heaven", the writer describes the senses in which the Bible uses this word and gives examples of KJV Bible verses that use it in these senses.
• The things Jesus says about the falling of the stars of heaven in v. 25 parallel the things he says about their fall in v. 29 of Matt. 24:29-36, but have no counterpart in the Lukan discourse. The sayings of Jesus on this subject seem to be related to the prophecies about the falling of the "host of heaven" which appear in v. 4 of Is. 34:1-12 and v. 10 of Dan. 8:5-14.
• The teaching of Jesus in v. 25 that "the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken." generally parallels his teaching in v. 29 of Matt. 24:29-36 that "the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:", and his teaching in v. 26 of Luke 21:25-37 that "the powers of heaven shall be shaken.". These teachings all seem to allude to a shaking of the kind mentioned in v. 13 of Is. 13:6-15, v. 10 of Joel 2:1-11, v. 16 of Joel 3:9-21, v. 6 of Hag. 2:1-9 and v. 21 of Hag. 2:20-23.
• V. 26 is the first verse of the Markan discourse in which Jesus uses the phrase "the Son of man" in a sense that is of End Time interest. In the accompanying Auxiliary Sense file titled "Senses of Phrases Like Son of Man", the writer describes the senses in which the KJV Bible uses phrases of this kind (a son of man, the son of man, etc.) and gives examples of Bible verses that use them in these senses.
• V. 26's description of the teachings of Jesus about the coming of the Son of man is repeated, almost word for word, in the last part of v. 30 of Matt. 24:29-36 and in v. 27 of Luke 21:25-37. See also v. 31 of Matt. 25:31-46. All of these descriptions of his teachings about this subject seem to generally correspond to the description of the coming of "one like the Son of man" that appears in v. 13 of Dan. 7:9-14. One or more of these references to the Son of man may be related to the reference to "the likeness as the appearance of a man" that appears in v. 26 of Ezek. 1:26-28.
• Surprisingly, the Markan discourse does not describe Jesus speaking about the sign which the disciples ask him about in Mark 13:4, Matt. 24:3 and Luke 21:7. This is surprising because the Matthean discourse describes him speaking about a sign in Matt. 24:30 (the sign of the son of man), and because the Lukan discourse describes him speaking about signs in Luke 21:11 (great signs from heaven) and Luke 21:25 (signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars;).
• The teachings of Jesus about the Son of man that are described in v. 26, v. 30 of Matthew 24:29-36, v. 27 of Luke 21:25-37 and v. 31 of Matt. 25:31-46 all seem to be related to the teachings of Jesus described in v. 28 of Matt. 16:24-28, v. 38 of Mark 8:34-9:1 and v. 26 of Luke 9:23-27. See also v. 41 of Matt. 13:36-43, v. 27 of Matt. 24:23-28, v. 37 and 39 of Matt. 24:37-51 and v. 26-30 of Luke 17:36-37. See also, however, v. 23 of Matt. 10:5-23.
• The words spoken by Jesus in v. 26 are similar to those spoken by him in v. 64 of Matt. 26:62-66 and v. 62 of Mark 14:60-64, i.e., during his trial before the high priest, except that he there adds, "sitting on the right hand of power,". In the most nearly similar Lukan account of his Jewish trial, Luke 22:66-71, Jesus does not mention cloud(s), and says only that the Son of man shall "sit on the right hand of the power of God." (Luke 22:69).
• Examples of KJV Bible verses that illustrate how it couples the words "right hand" with references to God include 1Kings 22:19 and 2Chron. 18:18, and the following verses from Psalms: Ps. 16:11; 20:6; 63:8; 80:17; 110:1 and 5; 138:7 and 139:10. Among the latter, Ps. 110:1 is of special interest because all three Synoptic Gospels describe Jesus discussing the meaning of this verse with the Pharisees and scribes. See Matt. 22:41-46, Mark 12:35-37 and Luke 20:41-44.
• The Son of man that Jesus describes as "coming in the clouds" in v. 26 seems to correspond to the "one like the Son of man" that v. 13-14 of Dan. 7:9-14 describe as coming with the clouds of heaven "to the Ancient of days" and being given "dominion, and glory, and a kingdom,". While Daniel does not explicitly describe the Son of man as the judge of the Day of Judgment, Jesus seems to do so in Matt. 25:31-46 of the Matthean discourse, although he there refers to the judge as "the King". Mark, on the other hand, does not describe the Son of Man as the judge of the Day of Judgment, although he refers to this day as such in v. 11 of Mark 6:7-13. In addition, Luke suggests that the Son of man will be this judge, but does not explicitly say so. See v. 22 of Luke 19:11-27 and v. 36 of Luke 21:25-37 of the Lukan discourse.
• Surprisingly, while v. 26 and the corresponding parts of the Matthean and Lukan discourses describe the Son of man coming in the clouds (or in a cloud) with power and great glory, none describes him coming in or with his kingdom, like Matt. 16:27-28 does. One possible explanation is that his coming in his kingdom (or in his kingship) is implied by the words "with power and great glory" in v. 26. Another is that v. 24-32 do describe the Son of man coming in his kingdom, but describe him doing so by means of a parable in v. 28-30, rather than by implying it in v. 26. See in this connection the discussion of the meaning of the words "summer" and "it" that appears in a Note included with v. 28-30 below.
• In v. 26 Jesus describes the persons who see the coming of the Son of man only as "they" and does not describe their reaction to what they see. In Luke 21:26-27 of the Lukan discourse Jesus also refers to these persons only as "they", but describes their hearts "failing them for fear,". In Matt. 24:30 of the Matthean discourse he refers to these persons as "all the tribes of the earth" and says that they will mourn. Of these, Matt. 24:30 is of special interest because it seems to echo v. 5 of Is. 40:1-11, which speaks of the glory of the Lord and says, "all flesh shall see it together:". Notice in this regard that John the Baptist quotes from v. 3 of the latter text in v. 3 of Matt. 3:1-6, v. 3 of Mark 1:1-11 and v. 4 of Luke 3:1-9, and that v. 6 of Luke 3:1-9 describes John adding, "And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.".
• In v. 27 Jesus describes the Son of man sending his angels to gather his elect from the four winds. See also v. 31 of Matt. 24:29-36. It is not clear, however, how this gathering is related to the gathering of all nations before the Son of man that he speaks about in his description of the End Time Judgment, Matt. 25:31-46. In the corresponding part of the Lukan discourse, Luke 21:25-37, Jesus does not mention either gathering and says only that the day of the Son of man shall come as a snare on "all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.".
• The gathering angels that Jesus speaks about in v. 27 seem to be the same as the angels he speaks about in v. 41 of Matt. 13:36-43 and v. 49 of Matt. 13:47-50, except that the latter verses suggest that the angels will gather the wicked first, especially when these verses are considered in conjunction with v. 30 of Matt. 13:24-30.
• The angels Jesus speaks about in v. 27 may correspond to the angels he describes as ascending and descending on the Son of man in v. 51 of John 1:49-51. See also v. 31 of Matt. 24:29-36. In the corresponding part of the Lukan discourse, Luke 21:25-37, Luke does not describe Jesus saying anything about angels. This silence is surprising because Luke does describe Jesus speaking about the Son of man coming in the glory of the holy angels in v. 26 of Luke 9:23-27.
• V. 27 is the last of three verses in which Jesus uses the word "elect" in the Gospel of Mark. See Mark 13:20 and 22.
• Interestingly, the summer (or "it") referred to in the fig tree parables of v. 28-30 above and Matt. 24:32-34 is called the kingdom of God in Luke 21:29-32, a fact which clearly suggests that all of these parables relate to the kingdom of God. In addition, the similarities between the description of the coming of the Son of man included in v. 26-27 and those included in Matt. 24:30-31 and Matt. 16:27-28 suggest that the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the Son of man are either one and the same or closely related. However these kingdoms may be related, what is important for present purposes is that they both seem to relate to a kingdom associated with the End Time or, in other words, to an End Time Kingdom.
• The previous Note leaves open the question of how the kingdom of God that Jesus speaks of in Luke 21:29-32 is related to the kingdom of the Son of man that Jesus speaks of in Matt. 16:28. One possibility is that Jesus thought that the Son of man would sit on the throne of the kingdom of God or, in other words, have God as his kingly overlord* or suzerain. See in this connection v. 32 of Luke 1:26-33 in conjunction with v. 5 of 1Chron. 28:2-8. This possibility may also help explain the meaning of the things Jesus says about the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power (or the power of God) at his Jewish trial. See, for example, v. 64 of Matt. 26:62-66, v. 62 of Mark 14:60-64 and v. 69 of Luke 22:66-71 in conjunction with v. 1 of Ps. 110:1-7. * Special Note: V. 7 of 2Kings 16:5-12 is an example of a verse in which a Jewish king, Ahaz, acknowledges the overlordship of another king, Tiglath-pileser, by speaking of himself as his son.
• The things Jesus says in v. 29-30 are similar to the things he says in their Matthean and Lukan parallels, Matt. 24:33-34 and Luke 21:31-32. With the possible exception of Luke 21:32, all of these verses suggest that Jesus taught that the Son of man would come in the way described in v. 26 before the passing away of the generation of people that lived when he spoke these words. This idea seems to be confirmed by Matt. 16:28, Mark 9:1 and Luke 9:27, which describe Jesus saying that some standing here shall "not taste of death" till they "see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Matt. 16:28), "have seen the kingdom of God come with power" (Mark 9:1) or "see the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:27). Because the Son of man did not come in this way before the passing away of that generation of people, these verses have long presented interpretation difficulties for Christians who believe that Jesus will come in this way in the future. Because it is impossible to thoroughly discuss these difficulties in a writing of this kind, the writer will here include only a few basic Notes that discuss how the Gospels describe Jesus using the key words or phrases that appear in these verses. The most important of these include: (1) "these things"/"all these things", (2) "this generation" and (3) "till all these things be done".
• Turning first to the phrases "these things" and "all these things", it will be seen that Jesus seems to use these phrases in v. 29 and 30 simply to refer back to the things he just mentioned, including the darkening of the sun and moon (v. 24) and the coming of the Son of man in the clouds (v. 26). These phrases may also include the things he mentions earlier in the Markan discourse, such as the standing of the abomination of desolation where it ought not (Mark 13:14). Jesus also uses these phrases in much the same way in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Interestingly, while all three Synoptic Gospels describe Jesus using both of the phrases "these things" and "all these things", Matthew and Mark typically describe Jesus using "all these things" while Luke typically describes him using "these things". As a result, it does not seem reasonable to conclude that these phrases alone are responsible for the above-mentioned interpretation difficulties.
• The situation is less clear in the case of the longer phrase "till all these things be done" in v. 30. This is because, while v. 30 and its Matthean and Lukan counterparts (Matt. 24:34 and Luke 21:32) all begin with almost the same words, they end differently. Specifically, Mark's version ends with "till all these things be done.", while Matthew's and Luke's versions end with "till all these things be fulfilled." and "till all be fulfilled.". One possible explanation for these different endings is that they all mean essentially the same thing. Another, however, is that Luke intended the things Jesus said at this point to apply not just to the fulfillment of the things he mentions earlier in his discourse, but also to the fulfillment of all Biblical prophecies about the End Time. Unfortunately, while the former possibility is supported by the fact that both Matthew and Mark repeatedly describe Jesus saying "these things" and "all these things", the latter is supported by the fact that Luke elsewhere describes sayings of Jesus, such as v. 22 of Luke 21:5-24 and v. 44 of Luke 24:44-51, in which he refers to all of the things written in the Scriptures. One example of a prophecy that falls within the meaning of Luke's broader phrase, but not within the meaning of Matthew's and Mark's narrower phrases, is the prophecy of a restoration to Israel of a king of the house of David. See, for example, 2Sam. 7:12-16, Ps. 132:8-18, Is. 9:1-7 and Jer. 33:19-26, among others.
• Turning next to the words "this generation" in v. 30, one encounters what is arguably the most problematic phrase in the End Time discourses. One reason is that v. 30 and its Matthean and Lukan counterparts, Matt. 24:34 and Luke 21:30, all begin with almost the same words: "Verily, I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all...". Another is that Jesus' use of "you" with "This generation" suggests that he is using these terms to refer to the same people, i.e., the people to whom he is speaking. As a result, if v. 30 accurately reflects what Jesus said at this point and is interpreted literally, it seems to say that the Son of man will come in the clouds (v. 26) while at least some of those people were still alive, an idea that seems confirmed by Matt. 16:28, Mark 9:1 and Luke 9:27. In order to deal with the difficulties associated with the fact that the Son of man has not yet come in this way, Christians have proposed a number of interpretations that avoid them. One is that "this generation" refers to the Jews as a people, regardless of when or where they live. Another is that "this generation" refers to the generation of people that will be alive when v. 24-27 are fulfilled. Rather than spend time discussing the relative merits of interpretations of these kinds, the writer will, in the Notes that follow, simply point out and discuss examples of other texts in which Jesus uses phrases like "this generation", especially if he uses them in the same verse with words like "you" and "ye".
• To begin with, the three Synoptic Gospels make clear that the phrase "…I say unto you, This generation shall" in v. 30 is one example of a type of phrase in which Jesus uses the word "generation" with the words "you" (or "ye"), "this" and "O" when directly addressing a group of people. Examples of other verses of this type include "Why doth this generation seek after a sign? Verily I say unto you…" (Mark 8:12) and "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation." (Matt 23:36). Examples of verses of this type that do not use the word "this" include "O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things?" (Matt. 12:34) and "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?" (Matt. 17:17). An example of a verse of this type that uses "we" rather than "you" or "ye" is Matt. 12:38-39: "… we would see a sign from thee. 39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign;". From these examples, it seems reasonable to conclude that, when Jesus uses "generation" in these ways, he uses it as a non-repetitious substitute for the word "you" (or "ye" or "we") that tactfully leaves open to interpretation when he is speaking narrowly about all of the persons who are then physically present, and when he is speaking broadly about some, many or all of the persons who are alive at that time, but who may or may not be then physically present.
• One of the most interesting of the above-mentioned examples involves the similarities between v. 30 and v. 36 of Matt. 23:29-39. This is because these verses not only use many of the same words or phrases, but also combine the words "you", "this generation" and "all these things" in ways that support the idea that both of these verses apply directly to the persons to whom Jesus is speaking. This is also because, if this conclusion is correct, it means that the words "all these things" in v. 36 of Matt. 23:29-39 may include the damnation of hell that Jesus speaks about in v. 33 of that text.
• In addition to including texts that use the word "generation" in the ways described above, the Gospels include texts that use it the same way we use it today. Examples of Gospel texts of this kind include Matt. 1:17, "So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations;" and Luke 1:50, "And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation." See also Luke 16:8, "...the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.". Curiously, however, the Gospel of John does not include even one verse that uses any form of the word "generation".
• For the sake of completeness, the writer will close his discussion of the meaning of the word "generation" by giving examples of Old Testament verses that use it. Examples of this kind that are shown in the accompanying "Old Testament Auxiliary Texts Files" include: v. 10 of Judg. 2:6-10, "and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord,"; v. 18 of Ps. 102:13-28, "This shall be written for the generation to come:"; v. 8 of Is. 53:1-12, "and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living:" and v. 20 of Joel 3:9-21, "But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.".
• The teachings of Jesus about the passing away of heaven and earth in v. 31 above are repeated, word for word, in v. 35 of Matt. 24:29-36 and v. 33 of Luke 21:25-37. This passing away seems to correspond to that mentioned in v. 25-26 of Ps. 102:13-28, v. 4 of Is. 34:1-12, v. 6 of Is. 51:1-11, v. 17 of Is. 65:6-25, and v. 22 of Is. 66:15-24. Interestingly, the two last-cited verses from Isaiah speak about new heavens and a new earth. It is possible that this "new earth" is what Jesus had in mind when he described his teachings about the world to come in v. 32 of Matt. 12:31-32, v. 30 of Mark 10:28-31 and v. 30 of Luke 18:28-30, and his teachings about the regeneration in v. 28 of Matt. 18:27-30.
• V. 31 is the last verse in which the words of the Markan discourse generally parallel those of the Lukan discourse. This is because, in the remaining verses of the Markan discourse, Mark 13:32-37, Jesus confines himself to telling his listeners that the time of the coming of the Son of man is known only to the Father, and to exhorting them to be watchful and alert so that they are ready for this time, whenever it comes. This is also because, although the remaining verses of the Lukan discourse (Luke 21:25-37) also describe Jesus exhorting his listeners to be watchful and alert, they also describe him providing additional information about the coming of the Son of man. See Luke 21:35-36. This difference explains why the writer has separated the last verses of the Markan discourse (Mark 13:32-37) from the Markan verses that describe the coming of the Son of man (Mark 13:24-32), but not separated the last verses of the Lukan discourse (Luke 21:34-37) from the Lukan verses that describe this coming (Luke 21:25-37).
• V. 32 above is the last verse in which the words of the Markan discourse generally parallel those of the Matthean discourse. This is because v. 32 and its Matthean counterpart, v. 36 of Matt. 24:29-36, appear at the points after which the Markan and Matthean discourses unfold very differently. Specifically, v. 32 appears at the point after which Mark describes Jesus telling a short parable about watchful servants and then ending his discourse, while v. 36 of Matt. 24:29-36 appears at the point after which Matthew describes Jesus pointing out similarities between the time of the coming of the Son of man and the days of Noe (Matt. 24:37-39), telling a long parable about wise and evil servants (Matt. 24:42-51), and then continuing through all of chapter 25 of his Gospel before ending his discourse.
• Jesus' teaching in v. 32 that no one but the Father knows the day and hour when the Son of man will come highlights the importance of the fact that this time is unknown. This teaching is surprising because it appears to relegate the Son to an inferior status that is hard to reconcile with widely held Christian beliefs about a Trinity made up of three equal persons. V. 36 of Matt. 24:29-36 makes a similar statement, but does not mention "the Son" and uses "my Father" rather than "the Father". The most nearly similar Lukan verses are v. 40 and 46 of Luke 12:35-48, which only say that the Son of man will come at a time "when ye think not." (v. 40) or when he is not looked for (v. 46). See also v. 35 of Mark 13:32-37 below, v. 42, 44 and 50 of Matt. 24:37-51 and v. 13 of Matt. 25:1-13.
• The writer has included v. 32 with v. 24-32 above, in spite of the fact that Bibles that show paragraph symbols show it after a paragraph break. He has done this in part because Jesus' use of the words "But" and "of that day" in v. 32 suggests that he intended these words to complete the thoughts he expresses in v. 31 (among others), and in part because v. 32 seems to fit as well with the verses that precede it as it does with the verses that follow it.
P 32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. 34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. [end ch.]
• For the reasons given in connection with Mark 13:24-32 above, v. 32 above is included as the first verse of the present part of the Markan discourse, even though it is also included as the last verse of Mark 13:24-32 above.
• Because the similarities and differences between v. 32 and the most nearly similar verses of the Matthean and Lukan discourses have already been discussed in connection with Mark 13:24-32 above, they will not be discussed again here.
• The phrase "the time" in v. 33 seems to refer to the time that v. 35 describes as the time when the master of the house will come. V. 33 and 35, in turn, are generally similar to v. 42 and 50, respectively, of Matt. 24:37-51. In addition, v. 35 seems to be generally similar to the first part of v. 46 of Luke 12:35-48.
• It may be that the whole of the servant parable Jesus tells in v. 34-36 is an abbreviated or variant form of the parables he tells in v. 45-50 of Matt. 24:37-51 and v. 42-46 of Luke 12:35-48. Notice in this connection that both of the latter texts are preceded by verses, Matt. 24:44 and Luke 12:40, which convey generally the same idea as v. 33, even though they frame that idea in words that speak of the time of the coming of the Son of man. Interestingly, Matt. 24:44 and Luke 12:40 use almost exactly the same words.
In spite of the above-discussed similarities and differences between the End Times Teachings of Jesus described in Mark 13:24-37 and those described in the most nearly similar Lukan text, Luke 21:25-36, both of these sets of teachings appear at the ends of their respective discourses. As explained in connection with Mark 13:31-32 above, the most nearly similar parts of the Matthean discourse appear near the middle of that discourse, which continues not only through the end of chapter 24 of the Gospel of Matthew, but also through all of chapter 25 of that Gospel. Unfortunately, this results in a situation in which neither the Markan nor the Lukan discourse includes a description of the trial-like Judgment proceeding Matthew describes at the end of Part 2 of his End Time discourse, i.e., in Matt. 25:31-46. This is unfortunate because the latter describes Jesus teaching things about the End Time Judgment that are of great doctrinal importance for Christians.
Among the most important of the things Matt. 25:31-46 describes Jesus teaching about the End Time Judgment are: (1) the criteria that the Son of man (or King) will use to explain why some persons are saved and rewarded while others are condemned and punished, (2) the rewards and punishments that these persons will experience and the places where they will experience them, and (3) the fact that these rewards and punishments will be everlasting (eternal in the NRSV). In order to help readers better understand these teachings, the writer will discuss them in greater detail, and put them in their proper context by including discussions of how they compare with the most nearly similar teachings of Jesus that are described in the Gospels of Mark and Luke. To do this the writer includes two sets of Notes that discuss these teachings. One is a general set of Notes that the writer includes below as the Appendix titled "Comparative Notes on the End Time Judgment". The other is a more specific set of Notes that he includes as a similarly named Appendix to the PDF version of this discourse document.
In this set of Notes the writer will further discuss the End Times teachings of Jesus that Matthew describes in the trial-like Judgment proceeding he includes at the end of Part 2 of his End Time discourse, Matt. 25:31-46. As he does this, he will try to put these teachings in their proper context by discussing how they compare with the most nearly similar teachings of Jesus that are described in other discourses or in other parts of the Gospels of Mark and Luke.
Turning first to the question of the criteria that the Son of man (or King) will use to explain why some persons are saved and rewarded while others are condemned and punished, Matt. 25:31-46 describes him separating the people he sets on his right hand from those he sets on his left by applying the criterion of whether they received and helped him or "the least of these my brethren" (v. 40), or "the least of these" (v. 45). The importance of this criterion is confirmed by its similarity to the one that Jesus describes in several different ways (e.g., receive, hear, take in, etc.) in Matt. 10:5-42, Mark 6:7-13 and Luke 9:1-6, Matthew's, Mark's and Luke's accounts of the sending out of the twelve, and in Luke 10:1-16, Luke's account of the sending out of the seventy. The importance of this criterion is also confirmed by texts which suggest dire consequences for persons who disparage or deny belief in him, e.g., who do not confess him, who deny him, or who are ashamed of him. See, for example, Matt. 10:32-33, Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26 and Luke 12:8-9. Whether the phrases "the least of these" and "the least of these my brethren" should be understood as applying only to followers of Jesus, or to all of a person's fellow men is a debatable question that the writer will not discuss here.
The Gospel of Mark describes Jesus finishing his End Time discourse without describing him saying anything about the Son of man (or King) presiding over a Judgment proceeding of the kind Matthew describes in Matt. 25:31-46. This Gospel does, however, include one verse that describes Jesus referring to the Day of Judgment as such, Mark 6:11. It also includes three pairs of verses (Mark 9:43-44, 45-46 and 47-48) that describe Jesus speaking about persons who go or are cast into hell or hell fire because they offended "these little ones that believe in me" (Mark 9:42). Even these verses, however, do not say that these fates are the outcomes of a Judgment proceeding, like Matt. 25:31-46 does, and do not specify either who these little ones are, or the kinds of things that offended them. It therefore seems reasonable to think that, while Mark describes Jesus saying things about the Judgment that may be consistent with the things Matthew describes him saying about it in Matt. 25:31-46, Mark does not clearly or strongly support those things.
The Gospel of Luke also describes Jesus finishing his End Time discourse without describing him saying anything about the Son of man (or King) presiding over a Judgment proceeding of the kind Matthew describes in Matt. 25:31-46. In fact, Luke describes Jesus ending this discourse without describing him using words like "judge" or "judgment" as such, and leaves the association of the coming of the Son of man with an End Time Judgment to be inferred from the things he teaches about these being the days of vengeance (v. 22) and being worthy to stand before the Son of man (v. 36). The Gospel of Luke as a whole does, however, include a number of texts that describe Jesus referring to or saying things about the Judgment in general. See, for example, Jesus' use of the words "that day" and "the judgment" in v. 12 and 14 of Luke 10:1-16 and "the judgment" in Luke 11:29-32. See also the things Jesus says about judges or the judgment in general in Luke 9:25-26, Luke 12:8-9, Luke 12:58-59, Luke 19:22-27 and Luke 22:28-30. Thus, the Gospel of Luke describes Jesus saying things about the Judgment which may be consistent with the things Matthew describes him saying about it in Matt. 25:31-46, but does not clearly or strongly support those things.
Turning next to the question of the rewards and punishments that will be decreed for people at the Judgment, and the places where these things will be experienced, Matt. 25:31-46 describes Jesus saying that the blessed will inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world (v. 34), and that the cursed will depart into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (v. 41). Curiously, however, the Matthean discourse does not describe Jesus using the words "heaven" and "hell" to describe these places, or saying where they are located. In spite of this, the idea that Jesus had hell in mind when he spoke about everlasting fire is suggested by the fact that Matt. 18:8-9 treats everlasting fire and hell fire as synonyms for one another. In addition, the idea that Jesus had an earthly kingdom in mind for the blessed is suggested by the fact that the Old Testament often uses words like "inheritance" and "inherit" to refer to the land of Israel. Finally, the fact that v. 41 describes Jesus speaking about a fire prepared for "the devil and his angels" suggests that his ideas on this subject may have been based in part on a non-canonical work that is now commonly known as 1Enoch. This is because a part of that work called "The Similitudes (or Parables) of Enoch" tells the story of a group of angels who rebelled against God and were cast out of heaven into a valley of fire below the surface of the earth.
In the Markan discourse Mark does not describe Jesus saying things about End Time rewards and punishments of the kind Matthew describes him saying at the end of the Matthean discourse. Instead, it simply describes Jesus saying that the Son of man will send his angels to gather his elect from the uttermost parts of earth and heaven (v. 26-27), and then telling a version of the Parable of the Fig Tree (v. 28-29) that is similar to the one he tells in Luke, except that it does not use the words Kingdom of God as such. In addition, Mark 9:41-49 of the Gospel of Mark as a whole portrays Jesus describing a reward for those who help others in his name (v. 41), and the punishment of being cast into hell or hell fire for those who offend "these little ones who believe in me" (v. 42) or whose eyes, hands, etc. offend them (v. 43, 45 and 47). This text, however, does not say anything about these things happening to massive numbers of people who are gathered together at an End Time Judgment, or about their being sent from there into an everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Thus, neither the Markan discourse nor the Gospel of Mark as a whole provides any clear support for the things Matthew describes Jesus saying about End Time rewards and punishments in Matt. 25:31-46.
The Lukan discourse also fails to describe Jesus saying anything about rewards and punishments of the kind the Matthean discourse describes him saying in Matt. 25:31-46. It does, however, describe him saying that the coming of the Son of man will be associated with redemption (v. 28) and with the kingdom of God (v. 31). This does not, however change the fact that this discourse says nothing about evildoers being sent into a fire prepared for the devil and his angels. On the other hand, the Gospel of Luke as a whole does include a text, Luke 16:19-31, that describes Jesus telling the story of a place of torment by fire called hell (Hades in the NRSV) in which a rich man suffers for the things he did during life, and a place described as 'Abraham's bosom' where a virtuous poor man named Lazarus enjoys an afterlife reward. In spite of the presence of certain common story elements, however, the things Jesus teaches in this story are not consistent with the things he teaches in Matt. 25:31-46. One reason is that Luke's story involves a situation that exists before the time of the End Time Judgment, something which is suggested by the fact that this story is set in a time when the rich man's brothers are still alive and engaged in their normal activities. Another is that this story describes the 'hearing' Moses and the prophets (v. 29), rather than the helping of even the least of the brethren of Jesus, as the way to avoid going to this place of torment (v. 28). Thus, neither the Lukan discourse nor the Gospel of Luke as a whole supports the things Matthew describes Jesus saying about End Time rewards and punishments in Matt. 25:31-46.
Turning lastly to the question of the duration of the punishment described at the end of the Matthean discourse, Matt. 25:46 portrays Jesus describing it as an everlasting punishment (eternal punishment in the NRSV). This is important because, depending on how the word 'everlasting' is interpreted, it can mean either a punishment that continues without end for all eternity, or a punishment that continues for a long period of time and then ends, presumably with a person's complete redemption or with his final and utter destruction. The answer to this question is no simple matter. One reason is that the canonical books of the KJV Old Testament provide little basis for the idea of punishment as an ongoing process that continues without end forever. In it, God is typically described as punishing transgressors WITH death, not AFTER death, although he is sometimes described as showing an ongoing hostility toward some transgressors by taking actions that show contempt for their dead bodies --- as in Is. 66:24 perhaps? Additional information on this subject may be found in the web page and PDF versions of the documents titled "Notes on Everlasting Punishment."
Another reason that the answer to the above question is not simple is that, in the KJV New Testament, the word everlasting is used to translate forms of the Greek word "aion", a word that means an 'age'. One problem with this word is that it is highly ambiguous, and can mean any long period of time, a time that is immeasurably or indefinitely long, or even a time that is infinitely long. As a result, scholars can make plausible arguments in favor of both of the earlier-mentioned meanings of everlasting punishment and, in the process, wittingly or unwittingly give it the meaning that best suits their personal or institutional interests. Another is that the Bible often uses the word everlasting in figurative and hyperbolic senses that have little to do with senses in which it means an infinitely long or endless expanse of time. Still another is that, in the KJV Old Testament, the word everlasting is also used to translate a variety of Hebrew words that have different meanings. More information about all of these meanings may be found in the PDF document titled "Senses of the Word Everlasting" that appears on the Home and Table of Contents pages of this website.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is described as finishing his End Time discourse without saying anything about a Judgment at which final rewards and punishments will be decreed, or about the durations of any final punishments. In addition, although the Gospel of Mark as a whole includes a text (Mark 9:41-48) that describes Jesus repeatedly stating that some people will be cast into a place called hell where there is a fire that shall never be quenched (v. 43, 45 and 47), it also describes him repeatedly supporting this idea with identical quotations from Is. 66:24. Suspiciously, however, Mark describes Jesus not including in these quotations the part of Is. 66:24 which makes clear that this verse speaks about the carcases (i.e., the dead bodies) of transgressors. In any case, there is nothing about a fire that is unquenchable which requires one to conclude that persons cast into it will not eventually be reduced to ashes. Finally, although Mark 3:29 (and only Mark) uses the words 'eternal damnation', there is nothing in his Gospel which requires readers to think that the word 'damnation' means anything more than being worthy of condemnation or contempt, or that it can be used as a synonym for words that convey the idea of a person's punishment in hell or with hell fire. Together, these facts suggest that neither the Markan discourse nor the Gospel of Mark as a whole clearly or convincingly supports the idea of an End Time Judgment at which some people will be condemned to a punishment by fire that continues without end forever.
Similarly, the Gospel of Luke describes Jesus finishing his End Time discourse without saying anything about a Judgment at which final rewards and punishments will be decreed, or about the durations of any final punishments. In addition, although the Gospel of Luke as a whole describes Jesus telling the story of the afterlife (but pre-End Time) torment of a rich man by fire in Luke 16:19-31, it does not describe him saying anything about how long this torment will continue. The idea that there is some limit to the duration of an afterlife punishment is, however, suggested by the fact that Luke 12:54-59 describes Jesus speaking about a person who is cast into prison and kept there until he has "...paid the very last mite." (v. 59). The idea of an afterlife punishment of limited duration is also suggested by Matt. 5:21-26, which describes Jesus speaking about a person who is cast into prison and cannot come out until he has "...paid the uttermost farthing." (v. 26). Together, these facts suggest that neither the Lukan discourse nor the Gospel of Luke as a whole clearly or convincingly supports the idea of an End Time Judgment at which some people will be condemned to a punishment by fire that will continue without end forever.
Additional information about the three End Time discourses, and how these affect what it is reasonable to believe about the End Time Judgment, is included in the Appendices titled "Comparative Notes on the End Time Judgment" that the writer includes at the ends of the PDF versions of the Markan and Lukan End Time Discourse files.
|Useful Search Terms
Markan End Time discourse
Teachings of Jesus about the End Times
This generation shall not pass
End Time prophecy website
Prophecies of Jesus about this generation
Meaning of this generation
Meaning of the word everlasting
Teachings of Jesus about everlasting punishment
Coming of the Son of man